Rock-Folk Review: Kito Peters-Witness
Witness is Kito Peters’ 13th release. With steady flow of releases year after year Peters has created quite a niche for himself. His music is introspective and eclectic.Witness kicks off the proceedings with the title track and sets the tone for what is to come. Although Peters offers an eclectic mix from a musical perspective, he is very astute and straightforward with his lyrics, which I found refreshing. His tastes vary from folk, rock, jazz and blues. The mix is quite pleasing and relaxing, which I welcomed.“Troubadour” is very upbeat and drives home the message with a high energy pace. In the same instance Peters can take an entirely different approach by coming across mellow and controlled so the listeners have an opportunity to look inward to see how the song relates to their own lives. Then again “Anthropology” explores the more serious side of the human condition even though the character “stays at home and fuss and fume, ” conveying the frustrations of life, the music finds a way to take the lyrics and make it all ok with uplifting passages and some reflective and easy going trombone playing. Instruments from a brass section can put an entirely different spin on the entire track and lead the person listening down a different path. That path being one that ends up being a bit more cerebral and complex. You can take that for what it’s worth as everyone takes away something different from every song and that is the beauty of music and being an individual while expressing feelings and emotion through a song.Peters is an accomplished singer/songwriter/musician and those that take part in the project with him are working from the same place and level of expertise. I am certain it could not work any other way for a veteran like Peters. “Bastille” is a great example of the diversity that an artist like Peters can display within one track. Elements of folk, rock, blues and Americana coming shining through like the brightest star in the night sky. “Comrades” closes out the album perfectly in a mellow way, as if to say “thanks for being my brother and listening to my music”.Witness will keep you entertained from beginning to end and every track has a different aspect to explore in the world of Kito Peters. This recording has all the bullet points that speak of quality and consistency. Anyone who can appreciate good music in its entirety will find something to enjoy here. Music that is hard to put in box and tuck away is what real music fans want to hear these days. You won’t find Kito Peters on your radio dial alongside all the Top Forty hit machines but if you like a satisfying musical journey you definitely need to pick up a copy of Witness.4/5 Stars
Kito Peters: Reviews
New Mexico’s Kito Peters continues to put out quality albums at an astonishing pace. Black Birds is his twelfth release, following up 2012’s Capital Dreams. At about an album per year pace it’s impressive that Peters is able to create such interesting and diverse originals so consistently.What I enjoy most about Kito’s albums is that (while I have to find a way to) you can’t really pin point a genre on it. They can go poppy, jazzy, folky, bluesy, or rock, yet they still work. It reminds me of some of the more recent endeavors that Elvis Costello has had. It comes as no surprise that Peters considers himself a “sucker for jazz-inflected folk and pop”.On the album opener and title track “Black Birds,” Peters rocks a bit more than what I recall of his previous work. It goes on this Tom Petty-esque path that seems to suit Kito and his vocal styling best. The second track, “Humble,” ventures into more of the jazz inspired territory and is quite a change from the opener. For me, the best track on the album was “God Said Noah” though. It’s a well written poppy gem, and has a classic timelessness that got me tapping my foot within moments. I am still perplexed by the “angel monkeys” however.Going back to the opening two tracks, they are prime examples of what makes Kito so interesting. They are both well written, but very different. Any given person could easily like only one of them, so the song you hear first could have a pretty big effect on whether you want to hear more. Black Birds has a great mix of styles though. Peters never seems to reach so far that his idea doesn’t work, and it lends his music the addition of horns, synths, and all kinds of instruments. It makes for a more interesting and diverse album and one that requires a more thorough listen. Be sure to sample several songs to get a better sense of everything Kito Peters has to offer on Black Birds.Key Tracks: Black Birds, Humble, God Said NoahKevin Kozel - Sr. MuzikReviews.com StaffJanuary 19, 2013
Capital DreamsKito Peters began his musical career writing songs in college and then took a break from music to become a therapist and teacher. His music was awakened again in 1998 and Peters felt the songwriting bug bite him hard.Peters’ music is a blend of rock, jazz, blues, folk, country, world and pop. His lyrics are thought provoking and his political views are very much against the current trends happening in the country. His core audience base are listeners that appreciate deep and heartfelt songs about relationships, politics and the world. Capital Dreams is Peters’ most recent release.“Cain” is a song about forgiveness and love of a brother. With elements of steady percussion, horns and guitar, this song has a jazzy folk quality to it. Peters’ vocals are smooth and blend well with the harmonies of the piece.“Breeze of Light” has an upbeat flavor as Peters sings about finding “God in a tin can.” Discovering God in the strangest places, light pervades the darkness. Horns, guitar and a lively sax make this piece particularly appealing. It has great texture and personality. The lyrics are playful and invoke the image of God having an active relationship with humanity without the syrupy content that can sometimes be found in themes like this.“Ghosts” begins with an eerie ambient sound. Fog entraps you and Peter’s voice shines through like a lighthouse in the gloom. This piece is more deliberate than some of the others on this album and is very contemplative. Calling to mind memories and loves from another time, the ambient sounds and stark contrast of Peters’ voice is very effective.Kito Peters is all about using many types of music to bring his message across. Reaching for a roots sound, he often sings about current trends in our society. Using poetry, he writes about growing older and that has a certain appeal for those who are remembering simpler times and longing for an escape from a world increasingly out of control. Peters’ captures this feeling with his harmonies, rhythm and lyrics. His use of horn gives many of his songs a jazz quality as in “Breeze of Light” but just when you think you’ve figured out his style, up comes “Ghost” and you are marveling at Peters’ grasp of different genres. The vocals are steady and this album captures elements of hopeful remembrance of times gone by and hopes for the future.Key Tracks: Cain, Breeze of Light, GhostsDana Wright-Muzikreviews.com StaffFebruary 10, 2012
Already with nine albums under his belt, New Mexico’s own Kito Peters, recently released his tenth album, Pyramid. Pyramid is already Peters second release this year, the first being Tip My Hat. Now having released ten albums in eight years, it’s safe to say that Kito Peters has a knack for songwriting. He has already won five New Mexico Music Awards and five of his albums been NMMA finalists for Best CD of the Year as well. By all indications, Pyramid has the potential to add to these numbers.Peters’ music has been often compared to artists like Stan Ridgway, Richard Thompson, and Harry Chapin. It seems that the most artists he is most frequently compared to is, and the one that I found to be most accurate, is Leonard Cohen. You can also hear a Tom Waits influence in his songs, only you definitely don’t hear that unmistakable Waits voice.Still, even though Kito doesn’t have a voice as unique as Waits (few do), his vocals definitely have a uniqueness that is his own and they really set the tone to this album. There is some good variation to the songs over Pyramid’s twelve tracks, but it’s the vocals that give this album a similar style throughout. So when Peters goes from mellow to jazzy, to funky, to honky tonk, and back, it doesn’t feel too far a jump.While Peters’ vocals are unique, they aren’t necessarily amazing (like Tom Waits). Kito has this wail that is a bit haunting. It definitely sounds better on some songs than others. On Pyramid it certainly works more often than not, but I didn’t enjoy the vocals on every song. If a couple of these tracks were taken out, I’d have liked the album a little more. Regardless, Pyramid is a very good album with some strong song-writing and nice flow from start to finish.
Key Tracks: Some Bars, The Other Side of Love, Tarnished Chrome, HurricaneKevin Kozel - Sr. MuzikReviews.com Staff
Tip My HatKito Peters has something to say, and the quiet and introspective music of Tip My Hat is his latest eloquent statement. In every song there is a message, and some of them just might touch you. If you've ever felt that your “family is a battleground” then there is something here for you. He sings about how he's been “the agent of my suffering, the snake in my own grass”. Does that sound at all familiar? If so, then you are sure to connect with the feelings that these songs evoke. Tip My Hat is definitely as much about the heart as about the music.What makes it more than just sentimental, though, is that each musical idea is beautifully realized. The rich chord progressions, like on the title track, are often enough to carry the song. For Peters (and his collaborator, Jono Manson), though, that is just the beginning. Some of these tunes feature sounds that are a little adventurous compared to your usual folk/pop art. From the crunchy guitar of “Burn Down The House” to the atmospheric sounds on “Kaleidoscope Days”, there is generally something extra to make it unique. Then again, the straightforward style of Peters' writing really needs little or no augmentation. Even when it's just singing and strumming, such as on most of “I Believe In You”, the effect is equally good.Fans will not be disappointed with this album. Kito Peters has made another contribution to that idealistic side of music that seems to be about more than just entertaining. When you have a moment to reflect and enjoy a little deep thought, I recommend ruminating on Tip My Hat. If it pulls at your heart strings a little, you can't say that I didn't tell you it would.
Key Tracks- Right Guy, Caught, Kaleidoscopic DaysDonny Harvey- Muzikreviews.com Staff
February 4, 2011
High Road - Kito Peters
Kito Peters' music springs from 60's rebellion, but it's modern enough for boomers and hipsters alike. His songs are mind-expanded folk rock epics in the vain of Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens, and Bob Dylan, with all the usual modern folk themes. He sings plaintively about cultural and social change, love, and trampled hearts. Peters is a talented poet, whose vivid descriptions bring the intangible to life. There're stories in his songs, but he usually makes his point with striking imagery and metaphors. All this poetry glides atop surreal, psychedelic mixes of acoustic instruments and glossy synthesized ones. It brings to mind Leonard Cohen's later work, but Peters has a sunnier disposition and more youthful sensibility.All fifteen songs are good, a few are very good, but many of his melodies sound interchangeable. It starts to seem mechanical after a few unvarying tunes. Maybe he has only a small vocal range, and can only hit so many notes. He stretches his voice a few times, for instance in “Grand Hotel,” and “New TV,” and it's a refreshing change. I think he should work on his range and experiment with melody more. He might not have chops as a singer (he's no worse than Dylan) but he conveys a lot of emotion and confidence in what he's singing about. He has a conversational style that comes right from the gut.He mixes styles like a pro, never losing his own sound. I like the tune “Don't Get Me Wrong,” the bluesiest track on High Road. It's slow, with a gritty electric guitar riff, a straight up blues solo, and a horn section. Peters finds his inner Al Green on this tune and sings with a bluesy inflection. “Fading” is a more heady tune describing Peters' disappointment with his country and it's waning character. Like the folk-rock icons of his time he uses the power of the memorable one-liner, such as “we are chosen, it can't happen, every fool's refrain,” in “Fading” and “I don't miss you, but I miss what used to be,” in “Don't Get Me Wrong.”Kito Peters is a great lyricist and a good songwriter, and prolific compared with most of the artists I review. High Road is a full hour long with 15 solid tracks. If you like artists like Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin, and even Van Morrison, you'll probably dig Kito Peters and his unique combination of old and new.Best Tracks: Low Life World, New TV, Don't Get Me Wrong, On The PatioNathaniel Rolnick – MuzikReviews.com StaffAugust 14, 2010
Too Much Light
The first time I heard Underground Man I thought I was listening to Edwyn Collins. Remember, The Girl Like You, guy? Yeah him. After careful checking I was pretty sure I was listening to Kito’s Too Much Light. Like Collins, Peter’s album has that trippy sixties vibe to it, or for want of a better description, its like psychedelic and jazz got together and got drunk and woke up nine months later with this album.
Kito’s music can best be describe as an amalgamation of Boz Scaggs and Bob Dylan. Odd? Perhaps, but the results are the kind of songs that will stay with you. Like Dylan, Peter’s voice is not the most perfect, but it conveys the lyrics perfectly whether it’s a song that’s politically motivated like Underground Man or a song that’s about the progression of life like the Wedding Song. The music isn’t always serious minded, there’s Raised By Aliens, which may leave you wondering if he was raised by “illegal aliens” or the little green men variety of “aliens.”
One particular song seems to focus on New Mexico which is where Kito hails from. He paints the perfect picture of the desert in Tin Man, singing “Out here in the parched land a vulture’s all I see.” The total vibe of the music creates and image of a desert, with the slow vocals and guitar. He’s not a stranger to romantic tunes either, there may be some cheesy lyrics to the beginning of You Move Me , but you can forgive him the “baby you’re a magnet and I’m crazy glue, when we get together I stick to you,” because the rest of the song is really great, considering it’s a romantic song about a relationship that’s beginning to grow and he’s not sure where its going or if its going anywhere.
The jazziest song on the album is Crazy Heart and that track is near perfect, its another of the more romantic tunes on the album with a bit of a Boz Scaggs touch to it. The sax and Kito’s gravely voice just pull this one together so well. Its fitting too, because so many jazz vocalists have voices that are more distinctive than perfect. Kito’s voice is like that, and that’s why after listening to Too Much Light, you’ll remember him.
The styles of music on this album are as different as the subject matter, one song is folksy, like Flesh and Blood but then songs like the title track, Too Much Light are a bit jazzy with a trippy keyboard and a wailing sax bringing their own light to this mellow track. That’s what’s makes this album so enjoyable. The acoustic folk and jazz really work well together, and with Kito’s unique voice makes every song more memorable.
After listening to this album for three days non-stop, I’ve decided its one of the best summer albums. The songs scream to be played out on the porch while you’re sipping some icy drink. So what are you waiting for? As the temperatures are rising, you need this album to help you chill out or celebrate the dog days of summer.
Kito Peters is Neil Diamond with an infusion of southern style. From the very start of Peters’ album Stories, one is instantly reminded of a time when such great performers as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Tom Jones dominated the airwaves.
Peters is a man of many styles, and Stories is a testament to his ability. From the country twang vibes of “Four Way Stop” through the swingin’ lounge singer style of “Flood Tide,” this album is full of catchy tunes that are sure to become instant favorites… The title track of “Stories” being mine.
With that said, don’t be fooled into thinking that Stories is just an album of sunshine and lollypops. Just as the earlier named greats of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Neil Diamond have proved themselves as not only performers but also songwriters, so too has Kito Peters. Such songs as “Ambivalence Kills” and “Take A Stand” firmly attest to this album’s relevance as serious form of art by interweaving prominent and poignant melodic tales throughout.
“Stories” is an album of exactly that; stories. In an era of songs with about as much lyrical depth as the message inside of a fortune cookie, it is incredibly refreshing to hear that artists like Peters are still building their music careers by being storytellers. From the political anthem of “Spirit Son” to the longing melancholy of “Love Song,” Stories is an album that will take you on a journey that you’ll want to revisit again and again.
No matter how good you are, if you live on one side of the United States, someone on the other side may have never heard of you. So when someone with as many awards and accolades from the New Mexico Music Awards sends a CD to me in Cleveland, I am intrigued. And when Kito Peters from Santa Fe sent me his CD of “Undertow,” I immediately put it on. And after listening to the release, it became clear to me why his name keeps popping up in New Mexico: The man has talent.
Kito Peters calls the area of Santa Fe “home”. It is there that you will find him creating a lot of noise; not just musically, but in their local music scene, as well. Every time the musician puts out a release, it is sure to end up in the New Mexico Music Awards, which says a lot for the talent of this singer-songwriter. One such album that ended up being included in the New Mexico Music Awards is Peters’ album of “Undertow”.
Like many singer-songwriters that have come before him, ‘musical genre’ means almost nothing to Kito. Depending on the song and the feeling each song takes, there might be folk, jazz, blues, or even rock in the songs that Kito writes. But most of the time, the songs end up with a combination of styles creating their sounds. Along with his ability to create songs with different genres, he also writes songs with some other singer-songwriters as influences, even if those influences are more than apparently worn on his sleeve. If you listen to the songs on “Undertow,” some of Kito’s influences should be very obvious.
On “Undertow,” Kito seems to have channeled several people when he was writing the songs for the album. The style of playing for the instruments as well as the lyrics for the tune “Priests” are very reminiscent of singer-songwriter Warren Zevon. And when listening to the song “Empty,” the writing style of the song as well as the vocal style that Kito has chosen for the song most definitely bring to mind none other than Tom Waits. The vocal approach that Kito takes on the song is a cross between early Tom Waits and the later years of the musician’s career when his voice was much more coarse. Other styles are also present on the release, but those are the ones that jump out at me the most. And while some of Kito Peters’ influences are very apparent, these influences have helped to shape the musician that created the enjoyable album of “Undertow”.
For the album “Undertow,” many talented musicians who played the instruments heard on the release joined Kito Peters. Without these talented musicians, and without the talents of Paul Groetzinger, Kevin Zoernig, and Ben Wright as producers, the album wouldn’t have the same feel.
Time and again, Santa Fe’s Kito Peters has been nominated in the New Mexico Music Awards. Take the chance to listen to “Undertow” or any of his other releases and you can see why.
To find out more about the talented singer-songwriter Kito Peters and his music, check out his website at www.kitopeters.com. You can also find him on MySpace at www.myspace.com/kitopeters.
Undertow-it changes the tides of your mind
First, it's the melodies, lilting one moment, then bringing up the pain of lost love,then foot-tapping, hip-swinging cool; then it's the incredible harmonies-deep and rich and cool and climbing; and finally the lyrics, poignant,lyrical-they stir your mind and bring you to a new consciousness ...you'll never hear what you heard the time before, it changes not with time but the tides of your mind. undertow gets better each time you hear it, which you'll want to do often. - EDC
Kito Peters does it again! This is his best yet!
Undertow is Kito's best work yet. The sounds are more sophisticated as are the vocals and the lyrics. The CD is very well engineered and I found there was something new and dynamic every time I listened to it I highly recommend it! - Tim Karsten
I asked some listeners to help me describe "Last Chance Love." Here's what they said:
In "Last Chance Love", Kito Peters brings together the acoustic sweetness of "Semi Blue" and the instrumental richness of "Exiles" to create a completely personalized sound. In these 13 songs, Kito the personal/political wordsmith and Kito the folk-inflected studio savvy musician come together to touch you, sting you, and draw you in.
"Last Chance Love" is a mature musical exploration of modern life in America and beyond, as felt/sung through the heart of poetic, amused and socially conscious gravity. Kito's hungry heart, exuberant sooth-saying lyrics and healthy anger expressed herein are crafted in danceable R&B grooves, sparkling rhythmic revelations, and cleanly vented soulfulness. His third offering extends his work to yet another level of authenticity and original import.
A Tarot-style fool on the cover of this third of Kito's CDs introduces a sharply contrasting mix of songs about love, fear, and last chances. The tunes are full-voiced and full-hearted, but never foolhardy. They sometimes serve up groovin,¹ shoulder-swayin' melodies; sometimes lure us to take a bite of harsh reality and always keep engaging. The songs powerful in texture, complicated in resonance come from a bard who persists in the universal search for a hard-to-find package of love, friendship, and passion even as he keeps drivin¹ wearily down the road looking for home.
Firestorms of love, laughter, and loss course through Last Chance Love. Funky and righteous, wry, and luscious, Last Chance Love takes us to a world of poignant contradiction. Kito's lyrics are both deeply knowing and freshly born in every beat, as he looks around him at our shared world with the eyes of discovery.
"The honesty and peculiar blend of humor and pain in Semi-Blue, particularly in the songs, 'we go on' and 'semi-blue,' soothed my heart. This album is an oasis of lyrics and melodies for those who are tired of hearing corporate slogans and political lies and who want to hear of life and love as they often are today: ambivalent, but persisting."
~ Jim Zinaman
"All the songs are sung, written, and produced with unmistakable heart, soul, and perspicacity. Several are so sweet they take me right back to riding in a convertible during the summer of 1966, longing for the girl I hope to meet at the shore that day, and then I can't get the songs out of my head, singing them to myself as I work."
~ Jeffrey Goldstein
"These songs, personally and politically conscious and articulate, soulfully sung, sad and funny, sum up the journey many of us have taken from the sixties to today. In the words of 'We Go On': Out on the road, no city in sight/ Driving, driving on through the night."
"listen -- or read -- torrent in the mall, corporate me, cactus people and you'll hear poetry, and probably your own voice made sweeet, in all of them. semi-blue is just that: a little blues, a little melancholy, a lot of heart."
~ pam fleischaker
"Heartfelt lyrics backed by music that's kept me groovin' since I first heard it. The title cut from this cd has become a favorite, singing in my head at the most unexpected times. Please keep your music coming, Kito Peters and co.!"
Semi-Blue has become my anthem, at once optimistic and loser resigned. As if Charlie Brown, grown past his worrisome childhood, had discovered a soulmate in Woody Guthrie.
~ paddy breen
i admit i usually listen to female vocalists, but i have noticed that Semi-Blue is on the track a lot lately. Semi-Blue is an original. Intelligent, honest lyrics ride the waves of a beautiful voice(s). Images and word play engage my mind and then let me share another's experiences. Thanks Kito.
"Exiles continues the longing and lashing out for freedom first heard in Peters' Semi-Blue, the responses of a soul aching for people and a life to love in an America full of lies and emotional traps. Take a walk with Peters down the lonely highway. Listen to the America he loves without the flag-waving. And you'll better know how you really feel."
~ Jim Zinaman
"Intensely personal, this CD also serves as a coming-of-age story for an entire alienated generation bred in the sixties, baffled and angry in 2003. Alternately lyrical, jazzy, and grating, the music displays a real individual sensibility at work. And it keeps unfolding, yielding more and more on repeated hearings."
"This album is rich with haunting melodies, grooving rifs, and lyrics which are so clever, stinging, and plaintive they touch you and make you think at the same time -- a rare feat. It captures many of the elusive feelings, dreams, moods, and existential dilemmas of the age!"
~ Jeffrey Goldstein
"loneliness and longing have made exiles of us all. listen to peters' poetry on lonely highway and fantasy -- and come back from exile."
"The thoughtful, poignant lyrics of Exiles speaks to me- both on the personal and global level- backed up by awesome rhythms and sound. I've been boogying my brains out to this music with meaning. Please keep it comin'!"